Tue, 13 Jun 2000

More people killed in Ambon clash

AMBON, Maluku (JP): At least eight people, including two Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers, were killed during three, likely related, raids by armed men on Monday.

The attacks began when speedboats sped by shooting at Galala port in Ambon. Soon after an attack occurred at the nearby adjacent villages of Hative Kecil and Galala, just a few kilometers from Ambon.

Sgt. Zeth Palibu of the Ambon Police and Sgt. Marsel Alfres of Police Mobile Brigade's 3rd Battalion in Bogor died from wounds when they tried to stop attackers coming into the village from the Gunung Malintang hills.

Pattimura Military Commander Brig. Gen. Max Tamaela confirmed the incident, saying that the two policemen were shot in the chest and in the head.

"The two villages are only 500 meters away from the hills. The clash broke up at about 7:15 a.m. The attackers started to infiltrate the villages from 4:45 a.m. and burned dozens of houses, including a church," Tamaela said.

The secretary-general of the Maluku branch of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI), Malik Selang, said six people, including the two policemen, died in the clash at Galala village.

Later at about 11 a.m., another attack occurred at the Poka area, 21 kilometers north of Ambon.

Soldiers rushed to the scene to help stop the violence. Two people were reportedly killed during the unrest in Poka.

As of 10 p.m. local time, bomb explosions and gunfire were still being heard.

No less than 33 people were injured in the three attacks. Most of the victims were hit by bullets, shrapnel from bombs, along with arrows.

Eighteen are currently being treated at Al Fatah Hospital while the rest were taken to Halong Naval Base Hospital and Dr. Haulussy General Hospital.

Hundreds of terrified residents have left the villages seeking refuge in safer areas.

"We detected the presence of outsiders among the attackers, but we managed to block and disperse them," Tamaela added without elaborating.

In a bid to quell further rioting, Tamaela said two Navy battleships entered the waters of North Maluku to attempt to block further sea attacks.

"An infantry battalion has also been set to enter Ambon this week. Troops in Tual, North Maluku, and Morotai island also have been redeployed by the Marines from Surabaya," he said.

Local leader Alex Manuputty, however, criticized the handling of riots by certain troops who seemed to be taking sides.

"Almost every time there is a problem here, rioters freely pass security posts guarded by Army Strategic Reserves Command's (Kostrad) 303rd battalion. The troops do nothing to stop them," Alex said.

Elsewhere in South Sulawesi, Pare-Pare Military Commander Col. Soeharnanto revealed that two alleged provocateurs of the recent Poso unrest had been detained at Pare-Pare Police Headquarters.

"One alleged provocateur is identified as a German national named Karl Heinz Reiche," Soeharnanto said.

"He was arrested in Palopo regency on June 5 after he escaped from Makale, the capital of Toraja," Soeharnanto told Antara from Makale on Monday.

The officer claimed Reiche admitted to conducting activities in the towns of Palu, Poso and Tentena, all in Central Sulawesi, just before the riots erupted in Poso on May 23.

The Wirabuana Military commander overseeing Sulawesi, Maj. Gen. Slamet Kirbiantoro, confirmed the arrest later in the day, and said the two, one of them a local resident, were under police investigation.

No information could be obtained as to exactly what the two were alleged to have done.(27/48/49/edt)